Belleville police issue public warning following 14 overdoses downtown over one-hour timespan

Overdoses in downtown Belleville skyrocketed yesterday afternoon, prompting police to issue a public warning advising against unnecessary travel into the downtown core.

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Substance abuse-related harm and overdoses continue to skyrocket as advocacy groups promote harm reduction and “safer” drug supply.

The failure of these strategies came to a head yesterday in the small city of Belleville, Ontario – a population with roughly 55,000 residents – where there were 14 overdoses in just one hour, in the middle of the afternoon.

Belleville police issued a “no-go warning” on Tuesday afternoon after emergency officials responded to 13 overdose incidents from 3:30 – 4:30 PM, which ended up being a total of 14 overdose incidents. Fortunately, they say, no deaths were reported.

This is being referred to as an overdose emergency and has forced city officials and community agencies to meet later today to discuss this crisis. The meeting will include members of Belleville Police Service, Belleville Fire Department, Quinte Emergency Management Services and the Health Unit.

Belleville Mayor Neil Ellis says it’s hard to get the message out about drug toxicity to the homeless people that it’s affecting and blames the lack of services like housing and rehabilitation from the province.

This comes on the heels of five overdoses in Belleville a week ago, between the hours of 5 PM and 9 PM.

In Ontario as a whole, there were 1,324 opioid and stimulant-related deaths
for the first half of 2023, from January to June.

That was up from 867 deaths in 2016, a year before the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy (CDSS) came into effect – a number that nearly doubled to 1,265 thereafter.

The Liberal government implemented the federal CDSS program in 2017. It was supposed to “reduce the harm of substance use” on families, individuals and their communities, but as of its five-year update in 2022, the program yielded no tangible results and instead, data revealed increases in overdose deaths and harmful drug abuse.

The final report's key takeaways noted that “the rates of substance use and related harms only continue to rise,” which prompted the Liberals to increase the funding to this failed strategy.

In a December 2023 update, they committed additional funding to the program, totalling budget allocation to over 1 billion dollars since its inception.

Publicly funded “safer” chemical drugs regulated by the government are failing to ensure safety or reduce harm, especially in communities impacted by illicit drug use.

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